American doom metal band, Khemmis, will release their brand new EP, Doomed Heavy Metal, on the 17th of April this year via Nuclear Blast Records.
The Colorado based band have only been around since 2012 but are already hugely respected off the back of some of the best album releases in the genre. Their debut, Absolution was good but it was the follow up, Hunted, that really thrust them into the limelight. It was also the album that saw the band signed on to Nuclear Blast’s considerable roster. For me though, it was album three that really grabbed my attention. Desolation is a brilliant album and one of my favourite doom releases ever making it comfortably into my Top Ten Albums of 2018.
Khemmis are a 4 piece with Daniel Beiers on bass and Zach Coleman on drums. Phil Pendergast and Ben Hutcherson are both on guitars and vocals.
Doomed Heavy Metal contains 6 tracks in total in a bit of a Khemmis rarity collection. 3 studio recorded songs start with a cover of Dio’s Rainbow in the Dark. That is followed by A Conversation With Death which was a single released in 2017 on a split record with Spirit Adrift. The final one is another single recorded as part of Decibel Magazine‘s Flexi Series back in 2017, called Empty Throne. The B Side of Doomed Heavy Metal contains three songs celebrating Khemmis live. All were recorded at 2018’2 Two Nights of Doomed Heavy Metal where all three of the band’s albums are showcased by a single track.
From Desolation, up first comes the excellent Bloodletting. That is followed by Hunted’s Three Gates and finally, Absolution’s The Bereaved.
Khemmis’ cover of Rainbow in the Dark is phenomenal and sets the EP off. Yep, it’s a cover but man do they make it their own. The magic of the original remains but Khemmis drip layers of their signature groove and dirty doom tones over it making it feel fresh and original. A Conversation with Death originates from an early 20th century Appalachian dirge. Khemmis take that and bath it in darkness and sorrow. The track is morose and contemplative. The filthy sludge crunch on the guitars resonates through your bones while the cymbal heavy drum crashes threaten to open the skies. All of this dark majesty is pulled together by glorious morose lead guitar melody creating a powerful track.
Empty Throne brings more of the fuzzy guitar riffs and drums, creating a strong foundation for the crystal clear vocals. The guitar melodies in this track are beautiful. There seem to be layer upon layer of them, washing over you and pulling your emotions in different directions. It’s a cracking song. We move from here into the live tracks starting with Bloodletting. There isn’t too much that can be said about live tracks if you already know the songs.
If you don’t, it’s a great opportunity to delve a bit further into Khemmis’ catalogue. One of the things you will notice across all three songs is just how good Khemmis sound live. You want a band to be able to recreate their album sound when they play live and Khemmis do that immaculately. They sound phenomenal. Full of power and force. Riffs that force your head to bang with the only real negative being that you will wish you were there to feel the bass rippling through your body. Three Gates continues, chucking some death/black metal vocals in at places emphasising even further the broad talents the members of Khemmis have to offer.
The Bereaved brings us to a close, in much the same way we started. Emotional music that weighs heavily on the soul. It is played so well live, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a studio recording. It closes the EP down and, like I find with a lot of Khemmis’ material, leaves you feeling a little introspective.
So really, this is an EP of bonus material I guess. A cover, 3 live songs and 2 previously released rarities. If your hungry for new material, this isn’t quite that but it still certainly satisfies. A little fix of doom laden, top quality heavy metal. Jam packed with fuzzy riffs, passionate vocals and emotional melody, this should help the time locked down pass a lot easier.
Keep your eyes on your favourite streaming platforms on the 17th of April for your copy of Doomed Heavy Metal. Even better, preorder a physical copy from Nuclear Blast, here.
Doomed Heavy Metal by Khemmis (Nuclear Blast Records)
The Final Score - 9/10